Sheila McLaughlin reports:
A Butler County judge wants the Ohio Supreme Court to dismiss The Enquirer’s suit against him, saying he fixed his mistake in improperly sealing a case involving the Miami University rape flier and the issue is moot.
In a brief filed with the Supreme Court, part-time Judge Rob Lyons of Area I Court in Oxford also maintains The Enquirer has no right “to insert itself into judicial and prosecutorial functions that determined the outcome of the underlying criminal case.”
“Once the Respondent Judge realized that the defendant’s underlying plea agreement was being undermined, it was far more important to deal with that issue than to alter the process to cater to a newspaper looking for a story,” the brief written by Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Dan Ferguson said.
The Enquirer sued Lyons in November after he immediately sealed the conviction of the former student who posted the “Top Ten Ways to Get away with rape,” flier in a co-ed dorm. The Enquirer alleged the sealing was improper because Lyons did not hold a hearing and that Lyons had cited the wrong law on a form he signed to seal the case.
After The Enquirer filed suit and Lyons found out he had improperly sealed the case, the student was allowed to withdraw his plea and prosecutors decided not to pursue further charges. That allowed Judge Rob Lyons to correct a mistake he made sealing the case the first time. He sealed it again immediately after the plea withdrawal. Lyons said he routinely sealed cases of Miami University students.
The Enquirer filed a second suit in the Ohio Supreme Court after Lyons admitted in a deposition that he had sealed convictions for several years using the same form citing the wrong law. The Enquirer has asked the state’s highest court to force Lyons to open the records. Both cases are pending.